New York City, NY, May, 24 2017 – President Donald Trump’s Fiscal Year 2018 budget proposal includes severe cuts to many HIV and HIV-related programs and no increases for hepatitis prevention. In response, the Latino Commission on AIDS is calling on Congress to reject the President’s budget and develop a budget that addresses the funding needs to prevent, treat, and research infectious diseases such as HIV and hepatitis in the United States and the impact that it has on minority communities already facing health disparities, poverty and discrimination.
The President has proposed to cut HIV prevention programs at the CDC by $149 million (a 19 percent cut). With recent successes in reducing the number of new HIV infections in the US to about 37,600 each year, now is not the time to reverse course when current HIV prevention efforts are working. We must strive to further reduce the number of new infections. Decreases in the number of new HIV infections are not happening in all communities and a greater focus needs to occur among youth, particularly young black and Latino gay and bisexual men, and in areas such as the South and Puerto Rico.
The budget proposes to entirely eliminate the AIDS Education and Training Centers (AETCs) ($34 million) and the Special Projects of National Significance (SPNS) ($25 million). These programs are working to address the unique care and treatment needs of hard to reach individuals living with HIV and people co-infected with hepatitis C to help them reach viral suppression. The AETCs specifically ensure that our medical provider workforce has access to training and education about the ever-changing HIV treatment and prevention landscape.
“The dramatic budget cuts to health and human service programs like HIV prevention at the CDC, the Minority AIDS Initiative, housing for people living with AIDS, Medicaid, and medical research at the NIH will have a devastating impact in our nation’s most vulnerable communities,” – stated Guillermo Chacon, President of the Latino Commission on AIDS and Founder of the Hispanic Health Network.
The budget maintained CDC Hepatitis Prevention funding at only $34 million. There are more than 55,000 new hepatitis transmissions each year and the CDC estimates that, between 2010 and 2015, new infections nearly tripled. Of the nearly 5.3 million people living with hepatitis B and/or hepatitis C in the U.S., as many as 65 percent are not aware of their infection.
Racial and ethnic minorities are disproportionately impacted by HIV/AIDS, however, the budget eliminates the Secretary of Health and Human Services Minority AIDS Initiative (MAI) Fund ($54 million). MAI supports cross-agency demonstration initiatives to support HIV prevention, care and treatment, and outreach and education activities. MAI funding was also reduced at SAMHSA by over $17 million. The budget also cuts $26 million from the Housing Opportunities for People with AIDS (HOPWA) program at HUD. Stable housing plays a vital role in preventing new HIV infections, helping individuals living with HIV adhere to treatment, and reducing the likelihood of HIV-related complications.
Other funding cuts include: a 20 percent cut to the National Institutes of Health, a 17 percent cut to STD prevention at the CDC (calculated over the past two years); elimination of the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program, and most importantly, severe cuts to Medicaid, which provides care and treatment to over 40 percent of all people living with HIV who are in care.
“The Trump Administration budget proposal is not addressing the needs of our nation, we must mobilize a national response to ask Congress to protect critical services for the country’s most vulnerable communities. These lifesaving programs create a difference nationally” stated Luis Scaccabarrozzi, Senior Director of Health Policy and Advocacy at the Latino Commission on AIDS.